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When Is It Foolish to Reward for A While Benefiting from B?

Listed author(s):
  • Wendelin Schnedler

A performance measure may or may not reflect the relative importance of different tasks for the production of benefit: it can be aligned or unaligned. Here, I examine when using an aligned measure generates a larger surplus in a principal-agent relationship than using an unaligned but otherwise identical measure. I find that (i) the agent's effort costs matter for the optimal way of measuring performance, and (ii) the optimal measure is not aligned but tilted toward tasks that the agent finds easy. Failing to recognize these insights may lead to false predictions about the use of incentives. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/591150
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 26 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 595-619

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:26:y:2008:i:4:p:595-619
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JOLE/

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  1. Fershtman, Chaim & Judd, Kenneth L, 1987. "Equilibrium Incentives in Oligopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 927-940, December.
  2. Steven D. Sklivas, 1987. "The Strategic Choice of Managerial Incentives," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(3), pages 452-458, Autumn.
  3. George Baker, 2000. "The Use of Performance Measures in Incentive Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 415-420, May.
  4. J. A. Mirrlees, 1999. "The Theory of Moral Hazard and Unobservable Behaviour: Part I," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 3-21.
  5. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
  6. Srikant Datar & Susan Cohen Kulp & Richard A. Lambert, 2001. "Balancing Performance Measures," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 75-92, 06.
  7. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-1156.
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